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Public Statements

Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about the bill in front of us and particularly a provision I would like very much to see in this legislation. When we have a Republican colleague on the floor either tonight or tomorrow, I intend to ask unanimous consent to add it to the bill.

I will say that the underlying bill has been a real dilemma for many of us--certainly the vast majority of us on our side of the aisle--given where we are on deficits and given the concern about strategy on the top-end tax cuts that have not created jobs over time. There is deep concern about that. I also know that people in my State are desperately hurting, and the unemployment benefit extension is absolutely critical for families who are faced with decisions about whether they will even be able to have a Christmas, whether they even have a house, will they be living in their car, will they be able to put food on the table, let alone get gifts for their children. These are very serious issues for families in Michigan. There are very important tax cuts for middle-class families, for small businesses, and strategic investments in jobs in this legislation in terms of tax provisions that create jobs.

The bill before us includes an important financing mechanism called the Treasury grant program, or we have dubbed it 1603--financing for renewable energy. This is one provision that is very important that is in the bill. It is incredibly important, if we are going to expand our economy, that we focus on the growing clean energy economy, the clean energy industry. That is a place where I believe we have the opportunity to create middle-class jobs, to create new opportunities and really create a boon in our economy. When developers want to build wind farms or solar, they can get financing through this program. Financing is hard to get when you are doing something on the front end--commercializing the first technology or doing something that is new. It is hard to get financing. This is very important, and I am a strong supporter of it.

But when we build the wind farms in America, when we build the solar units, I want to make sure that they are using wind turbines--that they are using all the parts, the 8,000 parts that are in one of those big wind turbines--I want to make sure those are made in America. That is how we truly grow our economy, not just creating new options on energy but building the technologies here, doing the R&D, doing the innovation. It is absolutely critical. We are the best. We are the best ones at innovation, but we also are the best at making things, and we need to be making them here.

I have to say I am very proud to represent a State--the great State of Michigan--where we know how to build things. We have great engineers. We have the best skilled workers in the world. We know how to make things. We are beginning now to move more into clean energy technology, certainly electric vehicles, hybrid, and also wind, solar, geothermal, and other areas that involve manufacturing, and we are very proud of that. When we build the wind and solar provisions, the cutting-edge solar cells, we need to make sure they are made in America, and we are doing that right now in Michigan.

My concern is that this bill does not extend the manufacturing tax credit that is absolutely critical to keeping those jobs here at home in America. The advanced energy manufacturing tax credit, which we have dubbed 48C, is helping to create at least 17,000 jobs at 183 manufacturing facilities all across the country in 43 different States right now. It has been a huge success, and I wish to thank Senator Bingaman. I was proud to join with him on the Finance Committee in being able to offer that provision that was in the Recovery Act. I wish to thank Senator SHERROD BROWN of Ohio for his efforts and leadership and passion on this issue as well, for the investment of the $2.3 billion we put into the Recovery Act.

The 48C manufacturing tax credit has leveraged $7.7 billion in private investment and clean energy manufacturing in America. That provision should be in this bill. We have strong bipartisan support and have had it since it was first instituted. That provision should be in this bill.

Last year, the Chinese invested $35 billion in clean energy technology. They are expected to ramp that up to $90 billion a year going forward. That is $246 million every single day. By comparison, extending the 48C manufacturing tax credits is a small sum but will leverage private sector investment and more than pay for itself and create jobs, making that new clean energy, those products, that manufacturing here in America.

In my home State of Michigan, we have 12 companies that have taken advantage of this manufacturing incentive building wind turbines, solar cells, advanced batteries for electric vehicles--jobs in Michigan. Wacker Polysilicon in Charleston, TN, is using its $128 million tax credit to produce silicon that is used in solar panels. Texas Instruments in Richardson, TX, is using its $51 million advanced manufacturing tax credit to reequip its facility and produce advanced power management semiconductors. Cree, Inc, of Durham, NC, received a $39 million tax credit for the production of LED light chips and fixtures, creating jobs. ZF Steering of Florence, KY, received $28 million in manufacturing tax credits for the production of wind turbine component parts. Frankly, the list goes on and on and on. Forty-three States--Republican, Democratic--have businesses today that are hiring people who are making things in their States, making things in America because of the partnership put in place with the advanced manufacturing tax credit.

So in addition to developing the renewable energy area of 1603, extending that so that we are helping to create investment in these new technologies, we also need to extend the manufacturing tax credit for companies that are making renewable energy technology here.

The whole point is to make them here--not to bring in the component parts from China or someplace else but to make them here. We can do that. We are already beginning to do that. We cannot trade our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign technology. In some areas, we are close to doing that.

The Recovery Act was about changing that playing field. I thank President Obama and his administration for understanding about manufacturing, about making things in America, building things in America, and what we need to do to create good-paying middle-class jobs again in America.

This bill does part of that with the renewable energy grant in the financing. But it does not focus on where things are made, which is of great concern to me. So when I have the opportunity--I came to the floor fully intending to ask unanimous consent to proceed to my amendment, to be able to add this critical job-creating manufacturing credit that has bipartisan support and has had it since it was first initiated. But I don't see any Republican colleagues on the floor this evening. I understand, under legislative courtesy, I will not do that. I will proceed and offer that tomorrow.

There is another provision I want to also speak about, an amendment of mine to the bill that I will offer a unanimous consent on tomorrow that relates to small business. When we look at how we grow our economy, we need to make things--by the way, a lot of those manufacturers are small businesses. When we think about the automobile industry, which I am so proud of in what they are doing in coming back, the majority of jobs in Michigan and across the country are actually with small and medium-size suppliers. We know small businesses are absolutely critical to the growth of this country. We know that a lot of folks who have lost their jobs right now are turning to the possibility of starting their own business in the garage or the extra bedroom in the basement. They are taking a great idea and trying to put it to work.

Mr. President, we have worked very hard--and you have been a strong supporter in helping our small business owners--and we have focused on that in the last 2 years. We have passed, in fact, in the last 2 years 16 different tax cuts for small businesses to help them grow and create jobs--unfortunately, over constant filibusters on the other side, objections and filibusters, but we did pass them. We know that these companies are the backbone of our economy, and it is our commitment--my commitment--to keep fighting for them every single day, so that they can do well and hire people, and we can have more opportunity for people to work.

Unfortunately, there is a new reporting requirement from the IRS hanging over the heads of small business owners related to the filing of 1099 tax forms. It would require business owners to file paperwork with the IRS every time they purchase a product worth more than $600. In practice, that means business owners will be forced to file mounds of paperwork for even the most mundane purchase. For example, if you are a real estate agent and you go to Best Buy for a new laptop or anyplace where you are buying one, you would have to file a 1099 form to buy that. If you are a farmer and you buy $700 worth of seeds, there is a form to file with the IRS. If you are a photographer and you need to travel for a few days to cover an event, a few nights at a hotel could mean another IRS form to fill out when you get home.

So we understand. I want to fix that. The majority wants to address this for small business owners. It is critically important. Small businesses in Michigan want to be doing what it is that they do, not filling out extra forms. Realtors want to be showing houses, and farmers want to grow things, and photographers want to take pictures. They don't want to be filling out endless forms and paperwork for the IRS. We had a number of votes on this issue on the floor. They have always gotten overwhelming bipartisan majorities to fix this. Democrats and Republicans have both agreed that we can't force American small businesses to file reams of paperwork with the IRS. So I was very surprised when there have been objections to placing this as part of this bill. This tax bill in front of us is the perfect place to be able to address this issue once and for all.

I understand there were objections on the other side of the aisle to doing that, which I find surprising because we continue to see amendment after amendment to take out this provision, which I have supported. But when we try to fix it now, we are seeing objections.

I intend also tomorrow to offer an amendment that would eliminate this problem for small businesses once and for all. It is an amendment that I have filed to this bill. It is something that, based on overwhelming votes we have had, overwhelming bipartisan votes, we should be able to deal with very quickly. In fact, a simple unanimous consent ought to be able to do it. If there is no objection--and I don't think there is any objection on our side of the aisle. I am sorry if there is an objection on the Republican side of the aisle to addressing this. There should not be, because now is the time to do that. This bill is the right place to do it. We are coming to the end of the year. This provision is something that will be very onerous when it takes effect on small businesses. We need to fix it. We need to eliminate that provision.

When I have the opportunity, when we have Republican colleagues joining us on the floor tomorrow, I will, in fact, offer a motion to move to my amendment and to get rid of this 1099 provision once and for all.

In conclusion, for me, as you know, everything is about jobs. My great State has lost more jobs--our people have lost more jobs than any other State, over 800,000 in the last 10 years. Our people have been hit harder, longer, and deeper than anyplace else in the country. We work hard. We are a proud people. Our people want to work. They know how to work. They are doing everything possible to get back to work--start their own business or get back to work in some other fashion. I am proud of what we are seeing happen with the support of the President and this Congress and the ability for the auto industry in America to come back. All three of our American companies will have a profit this year. It is the first time, I believe, since 1999. They are hiring people back.

We will begin to see things turn around. We have a long way to go because of so many jobs that we have lost and so many people who have gone through so much as a result of that. These provisions to take the paperwork off of small businesses, to invest in American-made products through manufacturing, are two provisions that will help us create jobs in America. If that is not our No. 1 priority, it sure ought to be. That is something I am going to continue to push every day.

Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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